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Federal Judge Declares Florida's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

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Chaunce O'Connor demonstrates outside the Miami court house during the court hearing on gay marriage in Miami, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Attorneys for gay couples and the state of Florida are squaring off at a hearing on a lawsuit challenging Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Like others filed across the country, the lawsuit contends the gay marriage ban added by voters to the state constitution is discriminatory and violates equal protection guarantees. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) AP Photo/J Pat Carter

MIAMI (AP) -- A federal judge has declared Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, joining state judges in four counties who have sided with gay couples wishing to tie the knot.

Chaunce O'Connor demonstrates outside the Miami court house during the court hearing on gay marriage in Miami, July 2, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle in Tallahassee ruled Thursday that the ban added to Florida's constitution by voters in 2008 violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process. Hinkle issued a stay delaying the effect of his order, meaning no marriage licenses will be immediately issued for gay couples.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed the previous rulings striking down the ban in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties. Hinkle's ruling allows time for appeals in the federal case.

A number of similar rulings around the country have been put on hold while appeals are pursued.

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